- any of several plants regarded as turning with the movement of the sun.
- heliotrope(def 2).
- a European plant, Chrozophora tinctoria, of the spurge family, yielding a purple dye.
- the purple dye prepared from this plant; litmus.
Origin of turnsole
1325–75; Middle English turnesole < Middle French tournesol the dye < Italian tornasole the plant, literally, (it) turns (toward the) sun, on the model of Greek hēliotrópion heliotrope
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for turnsole
A violet tint is given by the tinctures of turnsole and cochineal.
The lower part from a was filled with water tinged blue, or rather purple, with the juice of turnsole, or archil.Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air
He styles the colouring substance itself cutbear, persio, or turnsole; and distributes the lichens as follows:—1st.
- any of various plants having flowers that are said to turn towards the sun
- a euphorbiaceous plant, Croton tinctoria, of the Mediterranean region that yields a purple dye
- the dye extracted from this plant
C14: from Old French tournesole, from Old Italian tornasole, from tornare to turn + sole sun, from Latin sōl sun